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Dalin stays in control as IMOCA fleet head for light winds ridge

Racing less than five miles apart Charlie Dalin (MACIF Santé et Prevoyance) and Yoann Richomme (Paprec Arkéa) continue to lead the Transat CIC as the IMOCA peloton start to emerge from the strong North Atlantic winds and big seas they had through Tuesday and set up to try and cross a 150 miles wide ridge of light winds.

Dalin’s lead remains solid as the top duo – long time rivals since their formative days on the La Solitaire – make speeds of between 19 and 20 knots, power reaching towards the weather hurdle which is still about 100 miles ahead of them. Richomme –  who made a positive solo IMOCA debut in the Autumn, winning the Retour à La Base – has pulled back some five or six miles on his rival Dalin during yesterday evening and last night and at 0600hrs UTC was only two and a half miles behind and still going very slightly faster.

The leading duo, who have Vendée Globe winner Yannick Bestaven (Maitre Côq) about 22 miles directly astern and going quicker than them, are all holding a better angle than a group 40 miles to their south which is led by Paul Meilhat (Biotherm) and Nico Lunven (Holcim-PRB). Britain’s Sam Davies (Initiatives Coeur) is seventh some 21 miles ahead of her Swiss friend and rival Justine Mettraux (Teamwork-Team SNEF), Germany’s Boris Herrmann (Malizia Seaexplorer) is 10th 

As he usually seems to be, Benjamin Ferré is mixing it up with the back of the foiling IMOCAs on his daggerboard boat Monnoyeur Duo for A Job whilst both the young Brit James Harayda (Gentoo Sailing Team) and Swiss German Ollie Heer (Oliver Heer) are going well at some 90 miles or so behind Ferré as they seek to complete their Vendée Globe qualification.

Heer reported this morning “It has been quite full on here, very windy, with an ugly sea state coming right from a kind of 90 degree angle, some boats have had to retire which is an absolute shame. I myself have had to bear away about 30 degrees as my leeward lazy bag line failed and so my reef flakes are hanging off the boom and so I need to protect the sail and so for the next three hours or so I will be a little bit off course and at first light the wind will drop and then I will be able to go to two reefs rather than three and I will find a solution for the lazy bag, but all good on board otherwise.” 

Three skippers have reported damage since yesterday and have rerouted, Louis Duc (Fives Group – Lantana Environnement), Antoine Cornic (HUMAN IMMOBILIER) and in Class 40 Anatole Facon (Good Morning Pouce).

Duc saw a rudder fitting fail and damage the connecting bar between the two rudders. Clarisse Crémer (L’Occitane en Provence) reported a problem with her autopilot actuator. The trajectory of Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée), who was heading due south yesterday afternoon was also unexpected. His team mentioned a technical problem which was resolved after several hours of effort. And then last night Cornic has broken his D3 shroud forcing him to divert towards the South. Young Anatole Facon broke his starboard rudder head and is heading to La Coruña.

The strong wind is much more relaxing!  

Among the Class40s, the sequence has been similar to the weather the IMOCAs had just a few hours later for them

“We came out of the front to start with and then got into the light.” Reports third placed Nicolas d’Estais. Leader Ian Lipinski (Crédit Mutuel) who has nearly six miles of advance on Fabien Delahaye (Legallais Team Voile) said. “ The light stuff was really complicated for the nerves, I didn’t understand anything! Here, it's the opposite, we have a lot of wind coming at us but I'm ready.”, adding later whe he was into the stronger stuff: “The stronger wind tonight is much more relaxing than the calm weather of last night. The boat has a constant speed. And since we don’t carry anything on the bowsprit (no spinnaker or gennaker), there’s really no stress.” Italy’s Ambrogio Beccaria is fourth on Alle Grande Pirelli.